State defies milk fall

A JUMP in milk production in January has seen Tasmania become the only state in the country to record a lift in milk supply so far this season.

Production increased by 6.2 per cent across the state in January after seasonal conditions improved following a very wet spring. That increased pushed year- to-date production 0.7 per cent higher than last year, while every other state remains in negative territory so far.

A new reports forecasts Australian milk production to fall significantly this season due to a combination of chal- lenges impacting dairy farmers. Currently national production is down 6.6 per cent compared with last year.

In its latest Situation and Outlook re- port, Dairy Australia tips a contraction of 4 per cent to 6 per cent nationally due to worker shortages, competition for land and resources and wet weather.

With lower production the report says Australian dairy commodity prices are strong compared with other exporting countries, helping insulate the industry from some of the pressures overseas.

Globally dairy commodity values have dropped along with international demand.

DA industry analyst Eliza Redfern said the level of dairy product available for export globally was growing as pro- duction in other countries outweighed local demand.

“Global commodity prices have reduced, with wholesale buyers more price sensitive as challenging economic conditions continue,” she said.

“Australian dairy exports are extract- ing a larger-than-usual premium on the global stage, held firm by limited prod- uct availability.”

Farmgate milk prices have continued to strengthen as local milk production contracts and dairy remains a staple product for consumers. About 97 per cent of Australian households purchase dairy items and 33.8 per cent of house- holds are shopping between four or more retailers.

While the volume of milk sold has dropped by 1.5 per cent, the volume of private label products sold rose 1.1 per cent in the last year, further increasing the portion sold compared to branded milk.

Volumes of cheese and butter are also falling, but yoghurt continues to buck the trend, growing 1.7 per cent.

Spring was a season of challenges for many farmers with wet conditions hav- ing a big impact, including flooding in northern Tasmania.

Wet conditions delayed fertiliser ap- plications, silage cuts, and amplified usual issues associated with managing dairy herds in muddy condition such as pasture damage, mastitis and lameness

The report notes that while production is likely remain impacted it recovered sharply from a fall of 9.7 per cent in November to 6.5 per cent year on year.